Ecclestone Says F1 Schedule Will Remain At 19 Races In 2013, Return To 20 Next Year
F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone confirmed that a 20th grand prix "will not be added to the Formula One calendar this year," according to Gary Meenaghan of THE NATIONAL. Ecclestone, however, did say he is certain the schedule will return to its full capacity in '14 after he was left "very impressed" by progress in Sochi ahead of next year's inaugural Russian Grand Prix. Following last year's announcement that the Grand Prix of America would not be taking place in '13, rumors circulated that a European city "would join the calendar to fill the vacant weekend." Ecclestone, however, said it was now impossible to implement such an addition "at this late stage." Ecclestone: "The calendar has been formed already, it's too late." Ecclestone, who has spent much of the past four decades "expanding F1's global footprint," was quizzed on a host of potential future host cities, including Jerusalem, Isreal; Doha, Qatar; and Dubai, UAE (THE NATIONAL, 2/5). The AP's Michael Casey reported the leading contender to fill the spot was Istanbul, which was dropped from the F1 calendar in '12 after "a disagreement with Ecclestone over the fee charged to stage the race." Portugal has "also been mentioned in recent months as another candidate." Ecclestone said of the 20th race, "Disappointed it didn't happen before. You can't suddenly slot it in." Ecclestone also said he was "100 percent" confident that the Bahrain Grand Prix would "go ahead despite ongoing unrest in the Gulf nation" (AP, 2/5).
AN AUSSIE BOOST: The AAP reported Australia's Victorian state government is "set to swallow the mounting costs of the Australian Grand Prix and negotiate for an extension of the race." Premier of Victoria Ted Baillieu is "likely to begin talks" later this year on a new deal to keep the event at Albert Park after the current contract ends in '15. However, the Baillieu Government said that it was "committed to reducing the costs involved in any new arrangement." Baillieu said, "There are three more races under the current contracts, and we will see out those and commence discussions at an appropriate time" (AAP, 2/5).